Tamiya 1/48th A-10A Thunderbolt II “Sandy” USAF January 1991
It is early morning 21 January 1991, the 4th day of the war as an F-14A+ launches from the USS Saratoga. Piloted by Lt Devon Jones and RIO Lt Larry Slade for an escort mission of an EA-6B Prowler of VAQ-132. The task was to escort the Prowler for a HARM shot 45 miles inland, looking for targets of opportunity, near the huge Iraqi Al Assad air base. The first part of the mission went smoothly, the Prowler was able to launch one HARM. Nothing else came up so they just started to jam GCI. After pressing in another 30 miles at 26000 to 30000 ft no other opportunities for a 2nd HARM to launch, we did a left turn to egress back to the boat. At that moment we saw what turned out to be an SA-2 SAM coming up through the clouds, turning into it as briefed, the SAM continued to track us almost inverted it detonated near our tail. The F-14 shuddered and kept rolling right. The Tomcat started to go into a flat spin, being thrown around in the cockpit not able to talk to my RIO or see my instruments altitude or airspeed. It soon became obvious I would not be able to recover. I started to reach for the injection handle. Wonderful, our first mission and we are ejecting over bandit country.
Capt Paul Johnson and Capt Randy Goff of the 354th TFW were assigned the “Sandy” rescue mission when the F-14 was reported hit and down by the EA-6B giving them the approximate location of the down crewman. Unfortunately the information was misinterpreted and the search was off by 30 miles to the north. As the search continued, Lt Slade was already captured by the Iraqi’s. Lt Jones was still evading capture. The training of SERE school coming back to him. Lt Jones had dug himself a hole to lay low while monitoring his PRC-90 radio. All of a sudden his radio crackles and his call sign “Slade 46 how do you read, things started to happen quickly, reception was terrible. Going over the authentication protocols we soon establish we are on the same team. Capt Johnson calls over and says let me fly closer so I can talk to you. At the same time he has called and notified the MH-53J’s his location. (side note we were next in line for the rescue on the tarmac rotors turning as the MH-53’s were returning low on gas) The Pavelows called in and said they can do the rescue andturned around for the pick up. Setting down waiting for confirmation. Several Migs were being vectored into the area but were soon turned away by RESCAP F-15’s. The A-10s with voice checks with Lt Jones trying to get a more accurate location. Asking several times can you see me. We are heading North so look south and see if you can pick us up. Going to pickle a flare, let me know if you have a visual. No response, I’m at 18000 ft let me pickle a flare again. Again Lt Jones did not respond, then a response I can hear you. Capt Johnson pickles another flare, this time I can see you, I see you!. I’m coming down, tell me your location, This is Sandy 57 we have a visual no bandits. The Pavelows are up and flying low to the extraction point. The Iraqis were monitoring the radio and soon had a pair of trucks loaded with troops heading to the rescue point. Lt Jones revealing his location unknowingly to them. As they raced to where he was hiding, the A-10s had to leave for refueling. Slade 46 we are going for some fuel be back in 30, minimize your transmissions. Then off to the south they went to the tanker. While feeling elated that soon he can be rescued he soon hears the sound of approaching vehicles. He had lost track of time since the A-10’s has left, has it been 30 minutes? Seeing the trucks approaching in a trail of dust, he gets that sinking feeling when all of a sudden he hears the radio crackles we are escorting the helos in we are about 15 miles out. Slade 46 shine your mirror so we can see you. Everything started to happen at once, the trucks were very close about a mile away, seems like everyone saw that at the same time as Capt Johnson calls out a fast mover approaching from the south. A moment of panic and then swoooom! the 2 A-10’s roll in and with a flash of 30 mike mike obliterate the trucks. Nothing but flames, dust and a flash and they are gone. Threat eliminated. All this less than a 100 ft. The helos are now able to come in, one stays back to cover as the first one lands and picks up the aviator. The rescue is a success, quickly up and returning to the forward base at Al Jouf. The pilot spent over 8 hours on the ground since ejecting. Capt Johnson received the Air Force Cross while Capt Goff received the Distinguished Fly Cross for the rescue operation. Lt Jones was to fly nearly more 30 more missions after the rescue for VF-103. Lt Slade spent 6 weeks as a POW.
The Tamiya kit of the A-10 is not as accurate as the Monogram/Revell of the same scale. But it is not as labor intensive. The cockpit in the kit is actually of the prototype and not of the production model. I used a bit of the Legend and True Detail set to bring it up to pre-Laste standard used in the Desert Storm era. Also using the ejection seat as well. The weapons in the kit are also inaccurate, just using the ALQ-119 shallow pod, and the Mk.20 Rockeye cluster bombs. The AGM-65 Mavericks are from the Hasegawa weapons set, as well as the AIM-9 sidewinders. I chose these marking over the shark mouths which are more common, and this particular A-10 for it’s remarkable story. This airframe is now at the USAF museum at Wright-Patterson. Decals are from Expert Choice 48-417, 354th TFW “Play Time” based at Al Jouf Air Base Saudi Arabia. Using Tamiya Med Green, Dark Green (Euro 1 Dk Green) and Aeromaster War Eagle Enamel Gunship Grey for the wraparound scheme. Olive drab for the weapons and pods. Despite it’s age, the kit is not a typical Tamiya shake and bake. Slightly easier to build over the Revell kit. A good kit, a nice challenge. And heavy when finished. The A-10 is a large plane and with its wingspan does take space on the shelf. Now to finish the Revell A-10, in the upgraded LASTE variant. Thanks for viewing and reading. Whew!
It is the 25th Anniversary of Operation Desert Storm
32 additional images. Click to enlarge.